CENTER FOR CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICES
History & Purpose
Contemplative practices have been used for centuries in many diverse traditions to quiet the habitual chatter of the mind, cultivate a capacity for deeper awareness and understanding of one’s purpose, and enhance feelings of connectedness and compassion. Recent research conducted by scientists in a variety of disciplines has empirically supported the value of such practices.
The overall purpose of the Center for Contemplative Practices is to provide support to all members of the campus community through contemplative practices, pedagogy, and research that foster deep learning, reduced stress, increased capacity for compassionate listening, and increased well-being.
Why Mindfulness? Why Now?
Now more than ever before, we need to learn how to focus our attention and our energies towards meeting the local and global challenges we collectively face, such as pandemics, climate change, racial tensions, economic insecurity, and mental health crises. The unprecedented events of the last two years have made it evident that for our students to be successful we need to prepare them and ourselves to be resilient in the face of constant uncertainty. We must learn how to engage with people who have different lived experiences and worldviews with the intention of finding a shared purpose grounded in our common humanity. In short, we need to learn how to be more compassionate and how to work together toward the greater good. Having a Center for Contemplative Practices will coalesce our efforts at providing these learning opportunities in a consistent, coordinated, and time-sensitive way.
What does the Research say?
Research studies and our own experiences with contemplative pedagogy have demonstrated that mindfulness practices can expand our capacity to be resilient under uncertainty, to be compassionate, to be focused, and to listen to each other with kindness and curiosity. Consistent practice of contemplative techniques can literally change brain functionality and help us use our cognitive, emotional, and physical selves more effectively and foster deep learning. Research has shown that contemplative practices can help students improve readiness to learn, reduce stress and anxiety, increase focused attention, and regulate emotional reactivity. Contemplative pedagogy is now widely recognized and accepted by research and practitioner communities as an innovative and effective teaching practice. It can help create more inclusive, identity-safe student learning communities that have the courage and resilience to listen and learn from each other and together transform the world.
Purpose & Inspiration
We wish to foster a community of awareness and appreciation for our own and others' experiences through contemplative practices, pedagogy and research.
- 80.8% of students felt exhausted (not from physical activity) anytime within the last 12 months.
- 84% of CSUSM students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do anytime within the last 12 months.
National College Health Assessment II (ACHA-NCHA II)/Spring 2018
"A new C.D.C survey indicates that young people, as well as Blacks and Latinos of all ages, are showing signs of deteriorating mental health and some are resorting to substance abuse."
- August 2020
Zoom & In person Mindful CSUSM is committed to:
- Environmental sustainability by offering zero to minimal carbon footprint at events.
- Human sustainability by fostering increased energy and resilience for all of the CSUSM Community,
We promote compassion, connectedness, and the ability to see the world from a variety of perspectives.
- 74% of CSUSM students surveyed expressed an interest in contemplative practices.
- 100% of faculty members in t the FLC remarked that contemplative practices helped reduce stress, increased focus, create a sense of community and interconnectedness.
Do you feel that doing mindfulness practices contributed to the creation of a more inclusive classroom?
"Yes, because we were all doing this exercise together it felt like a community and made us a more open class."
"Yes, it made it so that we were all doing the same thing with no fear of being judged."
"Yes, it made everyone feel involved in a singular activity which in turn made them feel more at ease to openly discuss with one another."
Culture of Care
- Prepare students to be active participants in their own learning.
- Facilitate relationship building among faculty across disciplines and departments.
- Are foundational to building an empathetic campus culture that prioritizes the well-being of all.
Mindful CSUSM serves:
- Students (400 served):
- Social Justice Summit, Tukwut Leadership Circle, Latin@ Center, Gender Equity Center, Athletics, Housing residents, Student Union employees, Student Organizational leaders, California Indian Culture Center/American Indian Student Association, FUERZA Students.
- Faculty (75 served)
- Faculty Center workshops, Compassion Faculty Learning Community, Faculty Learning Community on Contemplative Practices and Social Justice
- We serve Faculty, Staff, Administrators and students through workshops such as:
- Instructors of First Year Students
- Staff Center
- Student Center Employees and Staff
- "Mindful of Race" book discussions
- Ongoing programming with the Staff Appreciation and Development, and FACES initiative
- Free Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class each semester (in Spanish and English)
Scope of Activities…
- Provide a mix of virtual and in-person workshops in contemplative pedagogy, compassion, and social justice.
- Promote and support student and faculty research on contemplative practices in pursuit of academic success and inclusive excellence.
- Offer workshops, consultations, and weekly opportunities to support individual and group mindfulness practice to the entire CSUSM community.
- Provide inclusive spaces for healing and care when our campus community encounters uncertainty, illness, loss, racism, and other personal and social crises, aimed at sustaining the CSUSM culture of care.
- Collaborate with regional entities to promote contemplative practices as a social innovation that emphasizes the importance of sustaining collective mental and physical health.
Weekly Mindfulness Sessions & Programs
Come join us for our daily dose of mindfulness sessions. No prior experience or registration is necessary. You can drop in for a while or stay the whole time. Open to the entire campus community.
Sessions typically take place in a space that is quiet and distraction free. This may prove to be challenging during a time when many families are now home together--working, learning, and caring for each other. It may be fun to practice together. The sitting practice can begin by sitting quietly, either on a chair or the floor, closing your eyes or allowing your gaze to rest softly on the space in front of you, focusing on either your breath or other body sensations. It is very normal for your mind to be easily distracted during practice; the overall goal is to notice that distraction each time it happens and to bring your attention back to the area of focus.
We acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory and homelands of the Luiseño/Payómkawichum people. For more information please go to the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center.